Meet Trish Thomason, mom to 17-year-old Eric, a student at The Aurora School. Before her family moved from Colorado to Virginia, Trish researched different schools for Eric to attend, which is how she discovered The Arc of Loudoun and Aurora. Eric thrives in a smaller, inclusive, structured environment, so Aurora was the perfect fit for him. In the one and half years since Eric’s been attending Aurora, Trish has seen a huge improvement.
“His focusing and ability to do tasks has gotten much better,” she says. “He also has better self-regulation of his emotions. And he’s happy! There’s definitely been schools where he didn’t want to go at all, and that doesn’t happen now. He gets excited about different things happening at school every single day.”
Not only does Eric attend The Aurora School, he also participates in many of the events that The Arc of Loudoun on Paxon Campus holds for its members. He enjoys doing adaptive yoga, art classes, and he absolutely loves music therapy. Eric’s even volunteered at Paxton’s annual fundraising event, Shocktober. After graduating from Aurora, Trish hopes Eric will join STEP Up, a day support program that teaches vocational skills to adults with disabilities.
“He loves animals and wants a giraffe as a pet. I want to give him the opportunity to work with animals, even just once a week. And that can be a place that can meld his interests with something that can grow within The Arc or Paxton Campus family.”
Trish loves The Arc of Loudoun because of the people.
“The people and staff are my favorite thing!” she exclaims. “Eric doesn’t get to just deal with his staff, but with other people from different programs as well. This allows Eric, and all the students, more opportunities for a wider social network.” She says The Arc’s efforts to incorporate individuals into the community is huge. “And that’s what I like about it. I like that they’re taking steps to let our kids be involved in the community, as well as bringing the community in to appreciate what our kids do. I think that’s so important.”
Trish also believes it’s important to give back to an organization that has given her so much, which is why she volunteers once a week with STEP Up.
“Ever since Eric started, I’ve volunteered at every program he’s been at. I come whenever I have free time, it’s a way to give back to them. I think it’s important to be involved. I want my kid happy and safe and I’ll work with any program that’ll let that happen.”
In the future, Trish hopes that more people will know about The Arc.
“I need it. Everybody needs it. I don’t have to spend so much time researching what’s out there about my kid’s future. The Arc has taken so many of those steps [of researching] away from us, which allows us to spend more time with our kids.”